Rent the Runway makes history by going public with a female founder/CEO, COO and CFO

October 28, 2021, 10:35 AM UTC

Good morning,

Rent the Runway stylishly shattered the C-suite glass ceiling when the company began trading on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.  

It’s “the first company to go public with a female founder/CEO, COO, and CFO—a distinction that I am so immensely proud of,” Jennifer Hyman, CEO, cofounder and chair noted on LinkedIn. Scarlett O’Sullivan has been the company’s CFO since 2015. Anushka Salinas became president and COO in 2019. She previously served as chief revenue officer and was also a member of Rent the Runway’s founding team.

My colleague Maria Aspan spoke with Hyman on Wednesday about why she believes the company’s IPO is a “step forward” for female founders. “It’s not just a financing round for us,” she said. “Today actually provides us with all of the capital that we need to grow, to reach profitability, and to significantly deliver our business.”

Maria writes: Rent the Runway raised $357 million in its public-market debut on Tuesday, pricing 17 million shares at $21 each, at the top end of its expected range. Shares started trading on Wednesday at $23 each, 9% above its IPO price, before falling back to close around $19. The 12-year-old company, which Hyman cofounded with Jenny Fleiss, had raised a total of about $441 million in private equity funding before its IPOa tidy sum, but one that pales in comparison to the billions some male-led startups have accumulated.

Hyman has been outspoken about the lack of venture funding—and the heightened scrutiny—facing female founders. “This is an extremely disruptive business—and it’s a capital-intensive business. We need warehouses, we need clothing, we need technology, we need data,” Hyman says. “If you think about other capital-intensive businesses that have disrupted industries—like Spotify, like Netflix, like Uber—those businesses in advance of their IPO raised billions, if not tens of billions of dollars. And what it gave those businesses was the ability to actually not only dream big but execute big and scale and have permanence even before their IPO.” You can read more about their conversation, here.

Hyman celebrates the significance of the company having a female CEO, COO and CFO, but noted there’s more progress needed in women’s leadership. “It also shows us how far we have to go until this is normal,” she wrote on LinkedIn. “Until both my daughters live in a world where women-led companies aren’t a headline in themselves.” 

Significant change may be brewing in corporate America this year. The number of women running businesses on the Fortune 500 hit an all-time record of 41. And speaking of women in leadership, I had the opportunity to hear from another impressive duo on Wednesday during Fortune’s virtual CFO collaboration. Accenture CEO Julie Sweet and CFO KC McClure spoke candidly about their partnership and why they’ve agreed to disagree in meetings. I’ll tell you more about it in an upcoming newsletter. 

See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

TD Bank's latest Retail Experience Index, is a bi-annual survey that tracks purchasing habits on big-ticket items, defined as spending $500 or more on a single item. On average, millennials outspend other age groups in the number of major purchases per year, the report found. Millennials continue to rely on technology to make major purchases. However, "Gen Z is more likely than any other age group to have made their last major purchase in a brick-and-mortar store, with the help of retailer financing, and spurred by a major life event like graduation, a first apartment, an anniversary, or a new job," according to the report. The survey polled about 1,000 Americans who made a major purchase in the last year, 

Courtesy of TD Bank

Going deeper

A new global study released by Citrix Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS), explores innovation and gauges whether meaningful collaboration can exist in a hybrid working world. About 75% of business leaders surveyed are worried that hybrid working will create a "two-tier" workforce with those in the office shown preference over those who work from home, according to the study. Meanwhile, 87% believe policies that encourage collaboration and access to information, regardless of location, is a vital post-pandemic innovation. And 86% said reliable tech tools that enable collaboration will be key for a hybrid workforce. The findings are based on interviews of 1,200 business leaders including CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, CMOs and CTOs.


Shane Fitzsimons was named EVP and CFO at American International Group (NYSE: AIG), effective January 1, 2022. Fitzsimons will succeed Mark Lyons as EVP and CFO. Lyons will take on a newly created role of EVP, global chief actuary and head of portfolio management at AIG. Fitzsimons is currently the global head of shared services at AIG. The changes will "enhance the leadership team as part of the separation of the Life & Retirement business," according to the company.

Lou Steffens was named CFO at Taylor Morrison Home Corporation (NYSE: TMHC), a homebuilder and developer. Steffens, currently president of mergers and acquisitions at the company, will succeed CFO Dave Cone, who will retire at the end of the year. Steffens joined Taylor Morrison in 2007, and has served as an area and regional president in various markets across the country and as a member of the executive leadership team. Most recently, he has overseen the company's results management office, where he has spearheaded operational initiatives.


“It's long overdue. We wish that would have been happening 10 years ago, but it is happening now.”

— Rich Lesser, global chair of Boston Consulting Group, on the surge in venture and private capital that's going into advanced technology to tackle climate change, as told to Fortune

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